________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 9 . . . . January 3, 2003


Kitaq Goes Ice Fishing.

Margaret Nicolai. Illustrated by David Rubin.
Portland, OR: Alaska Northwest Books (Distributed in Canada by Whitecap Books), 1998/2002.
32 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 0-88240-504-7.

Subject Headings:
Yupik Eskimos-Juvenile fiction.
Ice fishing-Fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Catherine Hoyt.

**** /4


As he reached for another pancake, Kitaq heard the crunch-crunch of footsteps outside in the cold, dry snow. Then stomp-stomp on the porch and creak as the outer door opened. As soon as his grandfather appeared in the doorway, Kitaq raced to his side,

"Apa, I am big now. Today will you take me fishing in the ice?"

"Son, you must let Apa in, and let him take off his atkuk (parka)," said Aana gently.

Kitaq remembered that young people did not address elders unless spoken to. He looked down at the floor and went back to the table.

Kitaq awoke early because he knew it was a special day, Kitaq was anxiously awaiting his grandfather's visit. Kitaq hoped that his grandfather would take him fishing for the first time because only big boys got to go fishing with Apa. Kitaq was not quite old enough to go to school with his brothers and sisters, but he was old enough to dress himself. Kitaq was overjoyed when his grandfather agreed to take him ice fishing. Kitaq catches his first fish, a pike big enough to feed his whole family for dinner. Kitaq catches three fish before Apa insists that it is time to start the long walk back home. Kitaq is tired after his long day but is excited about the feast Apa says his mother will prepare to mark this special day. Finally, when Kitaq just cannot walk any further, he rides on the sled while Kitaq's grandfather pulls his napping grandson home. Kitaq's family celebrates his transition to fisherman. The house is full of happy people, but no one is as happy as Kitaq.

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     Nicolai succeeds in creating a warm story which children and parents will enjoy. The author does a fine job of showing the universal struggle for all children of Kitaq's age to assert their independence and show their families that they are big enough. Many readers will be able to identify with this underlying theme. The use of traditional words throughout the story really adds to its authenticity. This tale of tradition being passed on through a family is terrific way to introduce Yupik culture to young readers. Kitaq Goes Ice Fishing was first released in hardbound copy in 1998.

     Illustrator David Rubin does a wonderful job with his oil paintings on canvas. The warm colours and use of detail show the reader the wonders of arctic life. There are lots of reds and blues. This artist has lived in Alaska since 1983. Rubin's knowledge of Alaskan landscape is shown in this book.

     The “Yup'ik Glossary,” “Author/Artist Notes” and the “About the Village of Kwethluk” section add valuable information for readers. These sections would be good discussion leaders for younger social studies classes.

     Kitaq Goes Ice Fishing is a recommended purchase for classroom collections and public libraries. This tale would make a nice bedtime story or read aloud choice.

Highly Recommended.

As the result of an exciting move, Catherine Hoyt is now the Reference Librarian at the Nunavut Legislative Library in Iqaluit, Nunavut. However, she enjoys volunteering at the local public library in the newest capital in Canada.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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